With tax season upon us, here’s good news for active and retired members of the U.S. Armed Forces. You’re eligible for free tax consultation and free tax preparation at a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) location.
Available through the Armed Forces Tax Council, VITA provides coordinators for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. These trained specialists are available to help you address military-specific tax issues such as combat-zone benefits, applying Earned Income Credit guidelines, and taking advantage of the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act. VITA coordinators oversee military tax programs worldwide and provide the main Internal Revenue Service (IRS) outreach for military personnel and their families.
As April 15th approaches, find the VITA location nearest you. Then bring the following documents with you to the assistance site:
- Valid photo ID
- Social Security cards for the taxpayer, spouse, and dependents, if applicable
- Birth dates for primary and secondary earners and dependents on the tax return
- Wage and earning statements (W-2, W-2G, and 1099-R forms) from all employers
- Interest and dividend statements from banks (1099 forms)
- Bank routing numbers and account numbers for direct deposit of your refund
- Statements related to mortgages and homestead expenses (or rental property expenses that include insurance and property management)
- Work-related materials and expenses that have not been reimbursed by your employer (that include mileage information and vehicle maintenance)
- Documentation of donations and charitable expenses
- Other documentation about income and expenses such as information about move-related expenses that were not reimbursed; home remodeling expenses; total amount paid for day care including the day care provider's identification number, tax ID or Social Security number; and utility costs that may be eligible for tax credits
- Last year’s federal and state tax returns, if you have them
These documents not only make tax preparation easier and faster, they may increase the amount of your tax refund. When filing taxes on a married/joint return, remember both spouses must be present with appropriate identification to sign the completed return.
While deployed service members are expected to file their taxes, the IRS offers tools and some special extensions to make filing taxes easier during deployment. Learn more.
Service members who prefer to file their own tax returns may consider using MilTax e-filing. Learn more.